Hawaii testing plastic asphalt mix in sustainable transportation efforts

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The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation (HDOT) is testing an asphalt mix that contains recycled plastic polymer as part of the agency’s sustainable transportation initiatives.

The pilot project will take place on Fort Weaver Road between Kilaha Street and the beginning of Fort Weaver Road near Cormorant Avenue. Paving began Monday and is expected to complete in late July.

A section of control pavement using polymer-modified asphalt will be installed next to the plastic road. A total of 1,950 tons of plastic-modified asphalt will be used, the equivalent of 195,000 plastic bottles.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and Hawaiʻi Pacific University will evaluate the performance of the asphalt over 18 months and the material’s potential to release microplastics into the environment. Once the evaluation is completed, HDOT will share the results with the public and the state legislature.

“Using plastic in our asphalt has the potential to make our roads stronger and upcycle material that would be otherwise headed for a landfill,” Ed Sniffen, HDOT Deputy Director for Highways, said.

In addition, the project will evaluate various high recycled asphalt (RAP) mixes using 50-percent RAP to provide HDOT with the data needed to more than double the percentage of recycled asphalt used on roads.